MK Marathon – sssh don’t tell anyone – Race Report by Wendy Foxall
Up until last Monday I really didn’t think I could run a marathon. Which is why I decided to do my first one without telling anyone. A couple of close friends were more than a little suspicious by the number of miles I was running but I still kept quiet. I was therefore a bit surprised to get a good luck message from the Club Chairman the night before the race – bugger, I’d been rumbled by the tracking app! I quickly sent a message to my best buddy and told her my plans before the news got out.
We (Hubby came too) left Coventry at 07.30 for an easy journey down to Milton Keynes and parked at the Park and Walk; this was £10 and about 1.5 miles from the start. The race village was at the MK Dons stadium and it wasn’t until we got there I that I appreciated how big this run was. That said, the organisation was great and there was no queue for the ladies’ loo – result. Due to the number of runners (half & full marathoners start together) we were set off in waves. We made our way to the Blue pen where we were quickly spotted by Anne-Marie, Dave (running and pacing the half) and James (also running the full), hugs all round and it was time to go.
The first 4 miles snaked around a commercial area of MK which wasn’t particularly picturesque but very well supported and the switch backs allowed a bit of Massey spotting, and waves and cheers were exchanged. Chris (who was running his first marathon in a Massey shirt) very gallantly had agreed to run with me so he kept an eye on the pace and reined me in when I tried to go off too fast. The course was busy but there was plenty of room to get into your own pace and before long we were heading out of the city and into the beautiful parks and countryside; Milton Keynes is a surprisingly pretty place. We said goodbye to the half marathoners at about 7 miles, and at this point I realised I was actually running a marathon – my first swear word was uttered. The course was very well supported, you couldn’t go more than a few hundred yards without being offered sweets, oranges and support, and at mile 23 Chris even managed to pick up some beer. The water stations were every 5K and were well stocked with gels and isotonic drinks. We passed several landmarks, including the famous concrete cows.
Just after mile 20 I rounded a corner to hear “come on Shorty”; the ever-so lovely Julie and Flan had driven down to support me. I had the best hug ever, uttered another swear word and continued on.
Chris had warned me that the last six miles would be tough. I’d run at a fairly constant pace without much discomfort up to 21 miles but now things were starting to hurt. We slowed down and started to walk some of the inclines. As we were now heading back towards the stadium there were several underpasses to negotiate each with its own mini hill. I was so grateful to have Chris by my side.
Eventually the stadium came back into view and for the first time I actually believed I could finish a marathon; 1 mile to go. I even managed to up the pace (a little). We ran into stadium to be greeted by a very noisy Massey (not so) Massive. Thank you so much for the cheers. The last few hundred yards were ahead of us and we were done.
Would I recommend this event – yep; I think for a first (possibly only) marathon it was a good course, fairly flat with excellent support. The only thing I think we would do differently was the parking; it was a long trek back to the car on very tired legs and it was poorly sign posted. Next time we’d either book in earlier and park at the venue parking or catch the train down.
To all you runners who have told me over the years that I can run a marathon, you were right; thank you for the encouragement. Here’s to the next one – maybe.